Gerard Gallant fired by Panthers in dysfunctional mess

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Gerard Gallant, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year in 2015-16, was fired on Sunday by the Florida Panthers after a middling 11-10-1 start that produced 23 points in 22 games. The news was first reported by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet.

Gallant met the media after the Panthers’ 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. And then he was turfed, along with assistant coach Mike Kelly. That’s … odd.

He’ll be replaced by his general manager Tom Rowe, which is … odder.

(This is, of course, further evidence that getting nominated for the Jack Adams Award means you’re on your behind within 1-3 years. It’s not so much a curse as it is a dereliction of duty by the broadcasters who vote on it, favoring narratives and anomalies over actual solid performances.)

Gallant went 47-26-9 last season with the Panthers, leading them to a division title but getting spiked in the first round by the New York Islanders. The Panthers struggled out of the gate this season, and for good reason: They didn’t have Jonathan Huderdeau due to injury, Jussi Jokinen was limited by injury and Nick Bjugstad was limited to four games due to injury. So that’s half of your top six banged up.

So why fire Gallant, especially after what he got out of this team last season?

Well, total managerial dysfunction is why.

We had Dale Tallon kicked upstairs in May after a division championship season, because he wasn’t hired on owner Vinny Viola’s watch. Rowe was named general manager, months into his career as a player personnel executive. He’s actually more qualified as a Panthers coach: This is Rowe’s first general managing gig in the NHL. He joined their front office on Jan. 1, 2016, after coaching their AHL affiliate for three years. Yes, coaching.

Steve Werier, who was the Panthers’ VP of legal and business affairs, was named assistant general manager. While he wasn’t in a player personnel role previously, he oversees the team’s analytics department.

Gallant was Tallon’s hire. Tallon was given an unceremonious kick upstairs. It doesn’t take analytics to do that math.

Meanwhile, some interesting tweets from NHL Network insider Brian Lawton:




Is Werier that “non-hockey personnel” or is Lawton indicating someone else? Is is Eric Joyce, another assistant GM, who has a West Point degree in systems engineering and a master’s from Harvard? And does Viola have time for these matters in-between brainstorming sessions on how to out-Military Appreciation Night the Vegas team?

There were constant whispers that Gallant and team management were at odds over any number of things about the on-ice product. He was given a contract extension last season from Tallon, so that probably didn’t matter to the new regime.

What a weird situation. When’s the last time a team won a division title and then saw the GM and the coach turfed?

Oh, right, the 2014 Pittsburgh Penguins. When they fired Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma.

You know, the former Jack Adams winner. Cursed!

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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